Focus time and energy on things that can be controlled.
So, what do you want to be when you grow up? That question may appear a little trite, but think about it for a moment. Are you–right now–who you want to be, what you dreamed you’d be, doing what you always wanted to do? Be honest. Sometimes people find themselves achieving victories that are empty–successes that have come at the expense of things that were far more valuable to them. If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.
“Leadership is communicating to another person their worth and potential
they are inspired to see it in themselves.“
A Sense of Meaning
One of the most inspirational people I have ever known is Viktor Frankl, the Austrian psychiatrist who was imprisoned in the death camps of Nazi Germany in World War II. He was a scientist. He was terribly inquisitive and understood scientific methodology, and he wondered what enabled some of the prisoners who were subject to such terrible treatment in the death camps to survive. He studied the survivors and attempted to understand what enabled these people to survive, unlike the hundreds of thousands who perished. Was it their physical health? He found physical health to be secondary. Was it their survival skills? Secondary. Was it their intelligence? Secondary. He explored every alternative hypothesis. He finally concluded they were all secondary factors.
Because of its value, some people have called feedback “the breakfast of champions.” But it isn’t the breakfast; it’s the lunch. Vision is the breakfast. Self-correction is the dinner. Without vision, we have no context for feedback. We’re just responding to what someone else values or wants. We’re living out of the social mirror. We fall into the trap of trying to become all things to all people, meeting everybody’s expectations, and we end up essentially meeting nobody’s, including our own. Continue reading
I recommend twenty things that I’ve found to be very helpful in developing the inner strength and security to create 3rd Alternative solutions:
1. Beware of pride. Let go of needing always to be “right.” Your grasp on reality is always partial anyway. Allow yourself to achieve the important breakthroughs in relationships and creative solutions that will never likely be realized if you stubbornly hold on to being “right.”
2. Learn to say “I’m sorry.” Do it quickly once you realize you’ve fallen short or hurt someone. Be sincere and don’t hold back. And don’t go just half way. Apologize fully, take responsibility, and express your desire to understand.
3. Be quick to forgive perceived slights. Remember, you choose whether or not to be offended. If you feel offended, let it go.
4. Make and keep very small promises to yourself and others. Take baby steps. As you create a pattern of doing so, make and keep bigger promises. Your own integrity will become your greatest source of security and strength.
5. Spend time in nature. Go on long walks. Create space in your life every day for reflection on the synergies of the world around you.
6. Read widely—it’s one of the best ways to make mental connections and get insights that can lead to 3rd Alternatives.
7. Exercise often, each day if possible; and eat healthy food, with balance and moderation. The body is the instrument of the mind and spirit.
8. Get enough sleep, at least 7 to 8 hours daily. Science tells us that the brain grows new connections during sleep, which is why we often awake with sparkling new ideas. And you’ll find yourself so much more able to give the emotional, mental, and spiritual energy needed to create 3rd Alternatives.
9. Study inspiring or sacred literature. Ponder, meditate, or pray. Insights will come.
10. Make quiet time for yourself to think through creative 3rd Alternative solutions to your challenges.
The philosopher Owen Flanagan puts it this way: “We are born into families and communities with an image of persons already in place. We have no say about the location in space of images into which we are born. The image antedates us, often by centuries. . . . Once we reach an age where we do have some control, we work from the image, from the story that is already deeply absorbed, a story line that is already part of our self-image.” We can become stout defenders of that self-image even as it becomes less and less about ourselves and more and more about an externally imposed image….. Continue reading
Surrender and Resistance are opposites. Resistance is typically violent; surrender is non-violent. But Gandhi and, following him, Martin Luther King Jr. combined the two ideas into the 3rd Alternative of nonviolent resistance, a concept that has led to the freedom of whole peoples.
“If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won’t require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external.”